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What Is Adrenal Fatigue And How You Can Fix It

October 16th, 2020

Most, if not all, people live with constant stresses in their lives. Be it physical, emotional, or environmental, stress can take over your life if not managed properly. Anxieties can build, sleep will be lost, and overall feelings of sickness can ensue. What plays an important role in this is often overlooked bodily system, the adrenal glands system.

The adrenal glands are located in the kidneys and are responsible for producing hormones that regulate your body. This includes adrenaline, of course, as well as cortisol, androgens, estrogens, and progestins. Besides stress management, these hormones aid in bodily fluid balance, blood pressure, blood sugar, and other important metabolic functions. 

There are numerous causes of adrenal stress, including but not limited to:

  • Fear/worry/anxiety
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Chronic pain, inflammation, and infection
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Physical or mental strain

Moreover, if left untreated, prolonged adrenal fatigue and an impaired adrenal system can lead to:

  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Nervousness and panic attacks
  • Weight management difficulties
  • Poor memory
  • Dry and thin skin
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Palpitations
  • Mental depression

Above is not a comprehensive list and there are so many more adverse effects that can be experienced if proper help for this condition is not sought out.

The first major step in retaking control of your adrenal system is to completely cut yourself off from caffeine of all forms, whether it be coffee, tea, or soda. These beverages overstimulate your adrenals and deplete necessary B vitamins. When you’re on stimulants like caffeine, your body is just as tired but it doesn’t get rest. Each time you push through tiredness with caffeine, you’re pushing your body further than it should be going. Another stimulant to heavily reduce is nicotine, as it interferes with your cortisol levels.

The next step is to avoid or limit other food and drink items, particularly sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. With heavy sugar dependence, you’ll need to shift off of it slowly so that your body doesn’t stress out when glucose levels are low. In regards to alcohol, go for alcoholic beverages paired with high protein and fat meals. Instead of processed and other ready-made foods full of bad fats and overwhelming sugars, a well-balanced diet will work wonders for your adrenals, as well as your overall health. Institute lean proteins, healthy fats, and nutrient-dense carbohydrates.

This could be:

  • Fish 
  • Eggs
  • Leafy greens
  • Whole grains
  • Low-sugar fruits
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil or coconut oil

Moreover, you’ll need to stay hydrated, as dehydration can influence your stress levels and force your adrenal glands to produce cortisol.

Tying in with an improved diet step is also to support your immune system better.

Immunity improving foods like garlic, spinach, and citrus fruits will greatly help. If you are already living with a weakened immune system, you can supplement potentially depleted key vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and Zinc. You’ll also want to cut out foods that increase inflammation, such as partially hydrogenated oils (like margarine) and Omega 6 fatty acids (like canola oil).

Improving what you consume isn’t the only way to better your diet, but also considering the timing of your eating. Absolutely do not skip your meals, as prolonged hunger will drop your blood sugar levels, stress your adrenal glands, and trigger your sympathetic nervous system. This leads to cravings, fatigue, light-headedness, anxiety, and reduced attention. The best way to keep your blood sugar levels steady is by beginning the morning with a hearty breakfast, and lightly “grazing” every two to four hours throughout the day. Timing your eating habits in this manner will have you feeling more rested and energetic.

A subsequent step for tackling adrenal management is to add light exercise to your routine. This could be walking, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or stretching. Intense weightlifting or hard running would only drain your adrenals rather than relax them. With light exercise, you’ll be able to naturally build up your energy supply, normalize blood sugar and cortisol levels, and re-oxygenate your brain and muscles.

Following diet and exercise is getting a handle on your sleep. Although we’ve all heard that getting eight hours of sleep per night is ideal, your adrenals will thank you when you get more. Aiming for eight to twelve hours per night will greatly aid in your adrenals’ recovery and will give you greater stress tolerance. Actually attaining this amount of sleep on a regular basis is definitely an idealistic goal, but you can always take naps as needed in order to give yourself the much needed rest.

Apart from these major lifestyle changes, there are two final smaller changes that can play a positive role in managing your adrenals. This entails identifying your own food allergies and adding herbal tonics to your beverage choices. 

Hidden food allergies can chronically wear down your adrenals to the point of exhaustion and may lead to auto-immune disorders. To remedy this, you should eliminate commonplace allergens—dairy, wheat, and corn— in order to see if there’s any noticeable, positive effects. Consulting a doctor and having them run different allergy tests can greatly reduce the burden placed on your adrenal glands. 

Tonic herbs help to rebuild your body’s glands and organs. Adaptogenic herbs help people deal with stress. When taking herbal tonics, it is pertinent to obtain them in extract form. Ginseng root, gingko, licorice root, ginger, and schizandra berries are great herbal recommendations to begin with.

Your adrenals will thank you for taking the time to repair and strengthen them with these lifestyle changes.